Green Templeton Climate Action Policy (2024 to 2035)

Introduction from Principal Sir Michael Dixon

I am pleased to introduce the latest version of Green Templeton College’s Climate Action Plan. The College has been working hard on its sustainability since well before I became Principal in 2020, but the progress I have witnessed has been remarkable thus far and our ambitions are very far reaching.

Of course, organisations can always do more, and with better available funding we would like to go faster. Our ambition to match the University in becoming net-zero carbon by 2035 remains ambitious but I truly believe ambitious targets drive significant achievements.

We have much to do, but the plan is comprehensive and recognises areas we need to develop and improve as well as celebrating past achievements. In particular I am keen that we develop a mechanism to better report our progress against specific targets across a wide range of issues, but this is in hand.

Vision

Green Templeton recognises that the actions and choices of our community have a huge impact on the college’s environmental footprint, and are committed to embedding sustainable thinking throughout its operations. Our Climate Action Plan is designed to enable us to engage and adapt our collective behaviours to ensure equality and equity, which are at the heart of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Green Templeton knows how important this issue is to our students, staff, and our communities, and has aligned with the university targets to achieving

  • Net zero carbon for scope 1 and 2 emissions by 2035.
  • Net zero carbon for scope 3 by 2035
  • Net gain for Biodiversity by 2035 (20%)

Reasoning

The UK government has set a challenging target for the UK to achieve net zero (or carbon neutrality) by 2050. Net zero is defined as the balance between the emissions we create and those we can remove from the atmosphere to keep warming below 1.5 ºC.

In March 2021, the University of Oxford approved a new Environmental sustainability strategy, aiming to achieve net zero carbon and biodiversity net gain by 2035.
The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) commit to ending poverty and inequality and addressing climate change with 2020-2030 identified as a ‘Decade of Action’, with ten years of ambitious progress required to transform and preserve our world.

United Nations Sustainable Development Goals Graphic

Definitions

Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions sources are categorised into three scopes to ensure responsibility for emissions can be accurately allocated and so that emissions are not double counted across organisations (See Figure).

GHG emissions

Scope 1: Emissions resulting from activities under the direct control of the college, such as gas boiler emissions, vehicle emissions and on-site refrigerant leakage

Scope 2: Emissions arising from energy purchased by the college for its operations, such as power.

Scope 3: Emissions arising from associated activities not directly controlled by the college, such as leased assets, procurement of equipment, employee commuting, water use and waste management. Greenhouse gases CO2, methane, refrigerant gases etc.

Scope 1, 2, 3 Graphic

Approach and Delivery

Through our Climate Action Plan, and this policy, we are now setting ourselves more challenging, but crucial targets to ensure sustainability remains firmly at the core of our operations and thinking.

The college is reviewing its operational assets in line with the recent Heat Decarbonisation Plan, so work can begin on reducing the emissions and the impact from its operational assets. The delivery plan will be reported in our annual report each year.

Our climate action plan will also include a detailed set of objectives which will form the delivery plan for all other areas of college.

Net Zero Carbon will require us to prioritise emission reductions but accept that however successfully we do this, there will still be some residual emissions.

Best practice is to offset those emissions by investing in carbon reduction projects elsewhere.

As we review offsetting we will need, in the short and medium term, to close the gap between reducing our emissions and achieving net zero carbon, we will include an assessment of relative offset schemes to identify those with:

  • Shorter ‘carbon payback’ period
  • Added social/health benefit (eg solar cook stoves in Africa avoid wood collection/burning but also avoid the health impacts of smoke inhalation)

Actions and explanations

The College’s Climate Action Plan is the working document behind this policy which details both the high level and operational level actions to achieve the overarching goal of net zero carbon emissions and net gain biodiversity. An overview of the plan is explained in the chart below.


Climate Action Plan Heading Explanation

Setting the infrastructure

Creating the right structure within college for effective decisions and action at the right levels.

Carbon

Defining our emissions across the estate with a focus to reduce.

Energy

Monitoring and managing energy efficiencies, making significant reductions, with less emissions and less cost to the college.

Biodiversity

Measuring and setting targets for increasing biodiversity.

Waste Management

Controlling how much we waste in across a number of streams across the estate. Tracing the type of waste and where possible reducing at source. Less waste, less work, less cost.

Food and drink

Setting standards within the food chain, serving the right meals for the right reasons.

Water

Understanding our water usage and establishing how to reduce it.

Purchasing

Why do we use suppliers, what are their sustainability credentials, why we need them and how often we use them.

Engagement

How we engage, communicate and raise awareness of what the college is doing with the wider community and beyond.

Social

How we engage with our local and wider community, supporting people across the world, ensuring our social responsibility goals are embedded in the plan.

Finance

Are college investments sustainable and how it will fund the action plan.

Travel

How the college will promote and manage sustainable travel within the community.

Monitoring

Reporting on progress internally and externally.

Scope 3 and beyond net zero.

It is proposed to create an inventory of climate related skills, research, innovations and positions of influences of Fellows, students, staff and Alumni. Based on the findings, a small group of volunteers – drawn from respondents to the inventory, would assess the opportunities, means and processes for synergistic collaboration on specific climate solutions.

Governance and reporting

We have established a governance framework to deliver the Climate Action Plan.

Governance Flow Chart: Sustainability Working Group > Buildings Committee > Governing Body

Sustainability Working Group

The Sustainability Working Group is to represent the college community with staff, fellows (including a GB member) and students represented. SWG is the owner of the Climate Action Plan, and this policy, and holds the responsibility of driving the planned developments and keeping these documents relevant. Where needed the working group will inform/report to other committees where needed, for example, Finance Committee or Development Committee in regards to funding

Buildings Committee

The Building Committee is to focus on the estates role and responsibilities within this policy and the action plan. Sustainability is embedded as part of the estate’s strategy and operations

Governing Body

The Governing Body has oversight of our legal and compliance activities. To address our wider climate change responsibilities Governing Body will be fully involved in the decision making and support where possible to achieve our ambitious target.

This document is the first in what will continue to be part of an annual reporting mechanism, alongside the Climate Action Plan. Once baselines around scope 3 and biodiversity have been established the details in the phased plan can be defined and reported against recognising available funding.

Approved by Governing Body
6 June 2024